Two leading lights in the HIV health and advocacy sector have been recognised by People Living With HIV/AIDS (PLWHA) Victoria at its recent annual general meeting awards ceremony.
PLWHA Victoria president Paul Kidd said the organisation was proud to honour the contribution of HIV specialist Professor Ron Lucas and PLWHA advocate Jeffrey Robertson, among others, to assisting people living with the virus.
“All of our honorees this year have made real and tangible contributions to our organisation and to the wellbeing of people living with HIV in Victoria,” Kidd said.
Lucas received an Exemplary Service Award — PLWHA Victoria’s top honour — for a lifetime’s work with HIV.
Working as a scientist and clinician at Fairfield Hospital from 1964 until his retirement in 1992, Lucas — who died this year — was well-known in his field and also contributed to developing vaccines for hepatitises A and B.
Lucas’ partner, Jo Lucas, accepted the award on his behalf.
“Ron Lucas was a true pioneer in HIV medicine in Australia and is remembered as a compassionate, caring doctor who was respected and loved by those he cared for at Fairfield,” Kidd said.
“Many people with HIV will have been saddened to hear of his passing earlier this year, and we are deeply honoured his family have agreed to accept this posthumous award recognising his place in our history.”
PLWHA advocate Jeffrey Robertson took out the 2009 President’s Award for his “energetic” and dedicated work including being a member of the PLWHA Victoria board, a former president of Straight Arrows and a member of the Positive Speakers’ Bureau.
“Jeffrey experienced appalling vilification following his HIV diagnosis in 2000, leading to the break-up of his marriage and losing custody of his two children,” Kidd said.
“His response to this was to begin speaking out on behalf of PLWHA to break down stigma and educate, a role he continues passionately to this day.”
Pyjama king and longtime supporter of PLWHA Victoria, Peter Alexander won a Community Endeavour Award, educator Dr Eric Glare won the Speakers’ Bureau Award, top research award went to the Australian National NeuroAIDS Brain and Tissue Bank and Mercedes-Benz Australia won the sponsor award for contributing to the organisation’s annual Christmas hampers. The Volunteer Award went to Anna Georgiou.
In related news, the Victoria AIDS Council/Gay Mens Health Clinic recently held its Annual General Meeting. It posted a $100,000 profit and marked an operating budget of over $5 million for the first time.